The day after Israel’s third coronavirus lockdown ended we got a call from our good friend Eli. Eli had worked for years in Israel’s booming tourist trade but is now completely out of work. “We’re not far from your place,” he said on the phone. “We have the olive oil you ordered. Can we stop by and deliver it?”
Of course they could, and they did. Admittedly, a year ago, such an ordinary conversation would not have been worth mentioning. Today, however, our friends’ call and visit are noteworthy for at least two reasons. One, for the first time since Israel’s latest coronalockdown began, Israelis were again legally able to “drop in” on others. Eli and his wife, who live about six miles away, “traveled” (a word that is rapidly losing its meaning) the distance to our place without the prospect of being stopped and questioned by police.
The second, and by far most touching aspect of their visit, is that the oil they delivered was purchased from a merchant in Galilee. Eli, a sabra, has gone out of his way to patronize Israeli businesses that may be struggling during the lockdowns as well as to encourage others, like Marcia and me, to buy from small Israeli concerns. He took a phone order from us and others for the olive oil, placed and paid for the entire shipment and then delivered the goods.
Eli’s thoughtful efforts were not limited to boosting commerce. During the first lockdown, for example, he did volunteer labor at an agricultural kibbutz in the Jordan Valley and worked at a medical facility for the elderly in Jerusalem, setting an example for others.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government is struggling not only at being effective but also at appearing to be evenhanded in their attempts to curb the virus. Many Israelis who are struggling financially have become hesitant, if not unwilling to cooperate. Some mall stores in Israel, for example, have opened for business in defiance of government mandates.[Read more…]
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